This was a budget that tells you all you need to know about the priorities of the coalition. They push on with a huge giveaway for those who have most, and do absolutely nothing for those at the bottom. The big Liberal Democrat idea – the £10k tax threshold, helps the wealthy far more than poorer people. According to the Citizens Advice Bureau, low-paid workers get just £17 a year, while higher earners get hundreds of pounds.
George Osborne seems to have no idea what life is like for most people who see their bills rising but pay staying the same or falling. His big idea for housing comes hot on the heels of three previous failed government schemes that were supposed to get house-building moving but have left housing completions at their lowest since the 1930s. His latest wheeze, ‘Help to Buy’, risks triggering a further housing price bubble, which is just what we don’t need in Cambridge. What most Cambridge people do need is more money in their pockets, but welcome though the tax changes on beer will be to local pubs, he’s taking the mickey if he thinks 1p off beer is going to get the economy growing again.
As Ed Miliband rightly said, this was a down-graded budget from a down-graded chancellor.
Meanwhile, Cambridge MP Julian Huppert trots out the tired Lib Dem line that they are helping people on low incomes by raising the tax threshold. It tells you all you need to know about the Lib Dems that they don’t know what a low income is! Raising tax thresholds doesn’t help the poorest because they don’t have enough to pay income tax. That’s the unemployed, low-paid part-time workers and many pensioners. Lifting the tax threshold is a hugely expensive way of increasing the gap between the rich and the poor! Just 6% of the money it costs goes to the stated aim of lifting low-income households out of tax. The rest goes to the better-off – that’s 94%!
It’s a nice soundbite, but like the coalition in general, it doesn’t work.